COVID-19: ‘India reports first cases of double mutations per sample, their impact not clear yet’

DTE had reported how India sequenced only 1% of total positive sampels, to which NCDC said: We have already achieved basic objectives

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 24 March 2021

India reported 223 cases of double mutations in the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, as of March 24, 2021. Of them, 206 were in Maharashtra, according to the Union health ministry. 

Capital Delhi recorded nine such cases. Maharashtra has consistently led the country’s COVID-19 tally.

The remaining eight cases of double mutations have been found in Punjab, Gujarat, Ladakh, Jammu and Odisha, the ministry said at the weekly press briefing March 24, 2021.

There was no evidence at the moment to suggest the double mutation of the virus was the reason behind the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, especially in Maharashtra, said Sujeet Singh, director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

He added the double mutation was found in 20 per cent samples in Nagpur. “The populations that had not been exposed earlier are getting infected,” he said.

Kerala reported the N440K variant in 123 samples across 11 districts; Andhra Pradesh reported the variant in 33 per cent samples. The variant is under investigation.

For the first time today, the Union government gave a state-wise break up of cases caused by the United Kingdom, South-African and Brazilian variants. A total of 771 cases of these three variants have been reported in India; the highest being that of the UK variant.

State-wise break up of cases caused by the United Kingdom, South-African and Brazilian variants. Source: Union health ministry

Down To Earth had reported March 24 that India was sequencing less than a per cent of positive samples as against five per cent requirement laid down by the consortium of Indian laboratory in December 2020.

On being asked if the Union government was considering ramping the exercise, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the genome sequencing of positive COVID-19 samples has already been increased significantly.

“Till December, the total quantum of genome sequencing was hardly 3,000. Since December, it is has been increased to 11, 000,” he said. He, however, evaded the question when asked whether the number of samples sequenced would go up to 5 per cent of the total positive samples.

DTE had reported how the 10 laboratories that are part of consortium and capable of sequencing more than 30,000 samples per month have so far sequenced only 7,664 samples from January 2021 to March 2021.

NCDC’s Singh defended the number and said the basic objective of mapping variants in the country has been fulfilled but for future, the sequencing would be stepped up.

Indian Council of Medical Research director-general said Indian vaccines work against the UK variant; their effectiveness against the South African variant was being studied.

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